Review: An Unsuccessful Door Knock


brass door knocker

note: a single knock requires no rhythm, but could be disturbing. Rhythm aides are available.

What’s on test: Failing to affect a stylistic rhythm of any kind when manually vibrating the door of an apartment or house with the hand or knuckles in order to announce one’s presence to the occupant.

What we found:

Pros:  Our testers found that an individual’s apparent inability to knock a door properly could be as a result of that individual over-thinking both the knock itself as well as the impact that that knock will have on whoever happens to be behind the door. An overly stylistic knock could insinuate a disproportionate degree of excitement on the part of the knocker, one which the occupant may be unprepared for. Similarly, an over-confident knock could be misconstrued as an attempt to assert some authority over the occupant, easily leading to an air of defensiveness and embattlement on the part of the latter. Thus, a botched knock, deliberate or otherwise, could be seen as the most diplomatic way to announce oneself with one’s fist.

We also felt that being unprepared for the knock suggested that one had not factored in any kind of instance where a formal greeting or announcement would be necessary, insinuating a presumption that the unsuccessful knocker’s relationship with the occupant was fluid and relaxed (though one which still had some call for physically closed doors, for safety etc.) This lack of preparation could equally suggest that the performer was comfortable enough to be able to dispense with affected or fancy contemporary knocks, and balanced enough not to resort to screaming through the door.

Finally, it was generally agreed that knowing how to knock a door was a fairly simple thing to learn, and as such was usually worked through and accomplished early in life. A few of our testers felt that being demonstrably unable to knock a door could imply that the unsuccessful knocker may have skipped many relatively easy early lessons for more complicated and challenging obstacles, suggesting hidden and potentially untapped depths of intelligence – a source of some encouragement for someone who may not be considered intelligent enough to knock a door properly.

Cons:  Despite all of the potential positives, it could still be said that an individual’s inability to affect the standard three-note or even two-note knock without getting it wrong wasn’t, on the face of things, very encouraging, in the same way that someone being surprised by a the door could be equally disappointing. It was also felt that an individual not yet confident in manipulating comparative knuckle/door-material tolerances at an advanced stage could be seen as having had an easy or sheltered life, though one thankfully not undermined by a penchant for fist-based violence.

Our testers also felt that, while good for not intimidating whoever happens to be on the other side of the door, botching a knock puts the knocker at a disadvantage, with the door’s owner having precedent to question the individual’s intelligence and assertiveness. They may even be less inclined to the knocker’s company, as the prospect of an undemanding audience equally means un-stimulating company. This situation is only worsened if the knocker is attempting to gain access to a party.

Finally, we felt that a strong, assertive (though not necessarily tuneful) knock was an important asset for delivery people, mobile individuals-of-authority and physical cold-callers. Botching the knock at the doorstep could be disastrous for the reputation of the caller, and as such we would advise at least basic doorstep training for any such professionals.

Verdict:  On balance, we found that the front door of any building represents a formalised moment of consideration and a physical spur to judge the level at which the relationship between the knocker and the owner of the door operates at. The subsequent knock performed is the indicator of that level. A poorly performed knock is done so largely because the performer hasn’t decided what kind of knock would be appropriate, and as such hasn’t decided on what ground the relationship lies, or where it should be heading. Our testers therefore concluded that an unsuccessful door-knock was incredibly useful (more useful even than a successful door-knock) both as an indication of a relationship that requires a degree of reassessment, and as the sign of a household that requires a doorbell.


Review: The Re-emergent Childhood Dream of Living in a Luxury Shed

big cabin

pictured: a child’s ideal of luxury shed life


What’s on test: The latent desire, relegated to the subconscious since adolescence, to make a home of, and subsist permanently in, a deluxe outdoor MDF cabin.

What we found:

Pros:  We found that the rediscovery of the youthful desire to live in a shed had many unexpected positives, beyond adhering to the superficial contemporary notion of ‘not giving up on your dreams’ and ‘being true to yourself’.

Our testers felt that finding ‘extremely-budget’ or even ‘perilous’ permanent accommodation attractive spoke well of the individual, suggesting that they valued a sense of adventure and the pioneer spirit over superficial displays of wealth and sense. We found that the possession of youthful wonder in simple living was a gift without value, a sum roughly relative to what an individual looking to sleep in a shed could reasonably afford.

It was also felt that even a temporary full-habitation of a garden shed or cabin had some positives, uppermost being that the experience would prepare the individual for dramatic local estrangements from spouses, covert relationships with other people’s local spouses, and other unfortunate relationship scenarios. The wooden-box-in-the-wind is also one of the projected retirement care-home scenarios of the next 50 years, so a reasonable expectation of what this will consist of could also be considered a positive.

Cons:  While the mobility and easy transport of the shed-home was initially viewed as a positive, our testers decided that the ease with which the individual shed-home owner could find themselves relieved of their shed-home, either by thieves or by the elements, was ultimately not something in the lifestyle’s favour. We also found that this was chiefly responsible for sheds not ‘holding their value’, making them a reasonably unsound investment.

Our testers also felt that, while it was nice to ‘reconnect’ with an emotion from one’s early formative years, there was a degree of sadness on the realisation that a sense of wonder in, say, books or science would have been of significantly more value than an interest in shed life. There was also the notion that this newly rediscovered interest could pose some problems, most notably in the potential resurfacing of other latent childhood intentions, like sleeping under the bathmat and eating lots of sugar for lunch. One of our testers even suggested that the re-emergence of this desire was an early sign of one’s childhood self attempting to assert authority over one’s contemporary self, a interesting notion that was immediately dismissed and kept us very much awake at night.

Verdict: On balance, we found that the dream of properly living in a shed must be practically tested by each individual taken with the notion in order to ascertain whether it could ever represent a feasible way of life for that individual. We felt that the contemporary fixation with the lingering ‘dream’ as a positive make this almost brutal validation a necessity, as positive notions left unverified can often undermine the positive realities we may really experience. Fortunately, many garden centre and home improvement chains already have fully habitable display sheds, which our testers found, with a degree of stealth, were ideally suited to such testing.

Review: A Cobbler’s Dummy

cobbler dummy robot doll

pictured: an automatic shoesmith


What’s on test: The use of the shop-window cobbler automaton as visual shorthand for the practice and profession of making and mending footwear.

What we found:

Pros:  We found that the cobblers dummy, as representative of the exterior life of the professional shoesmith, had some positives, not least that his largely satisfied demeanour and indefatigable commitment to cobbling helps to bolster the assumption that cobblers are an internally confident, positive people.

It was accepted that this perception of positivity could also serve as a reminder to potential cobblers, as well as the public in general, that it remains acceptable to dedicate your life to a useful profession, and that employment in a transient or superficial sector, like broadcast entertainment or mass market cabaret, isn’t necessarily the only choice for the individual looking to achieve a sense of validation and self-worth through work.

Our testers also felt that the cobbler-robo affords cobblers a degree of advantage in personal conflict with practitioners of other professions, as the penetrating stare, indefatigable resolve and access to improvised weaponry serves to warn potential aggressors that shoemakers are not to be messed with.

Cons:  While we did find that the cobbler dummy advertises many of the positives of the profession, we felt that it conveniently avoided addressing its challenges. Bad posture, the unrealistic expectations of an increasingly impatient clientele and the slow development of a total aversion to shoes are just some of the difficulties shoemakers ‘n’ menders encounter. The cobbler’s dummy, as visual shorthand for the profession, could be accused of romanticising the career to an unhelpful degree, glossing over such problems in such a way that a disproportionate amount of young cobblers commit to the career without knowing the potential pitfalls of the profession.

Our testers also noted that the industry-standard cobbler automaton is of a certain age, and usually depicts an older man. This could be a problem, not in only as it could present the profession as one exclusive to the older gentleman, but it could also insinuate that the development tree or career path of the professional shoemender is limited to ‘shoemender’. This perception could act as a disincentive for the Next Generation of cobblers and, coupled with the sartorial ineptitude of the standard cobbler-robo, a deterrent for anyone wishing to date and settle a cobbler.

Verdict: Our testers found that, on balance, a profession lucrative and self-confident enough to encourage idealised robotic effigies of its practitioners was one in rude health. While the visual shorthand employed by these effigies could be problematic in warping the expectations of the future cobbler, we felt that it was refreshing to see a profession not daunted by the superficiality and materialism that has come to typify society. The shoesmith-robo serves as a reminder of the unquestionable spirit of pure labour, a lighthouse of ‘the real’ of combining developed physicality with inherited grassroots specialisation.  We would therefore encourage the continued use of cobbler’s doll by cobblers and the profession of cobbling, despite not ever really being able to deliberately look it in the face without looking away again really quickly.